Imitation General (1958): Marshall’s WWII Dramedy, Starring Glenn Ford, Red Buttons

George Marshall directed this war dramedy, starring Glenn Ford, Red Buttons and Taina Elg, based on a short story of the same name by William Chamberlain.

mitation General
Imitation General FilmPoster.jpeg

After a big battle during World War II, Brigadier General Charles Lane (Kent Smith), Master Sergeant Murphy “Murph” Savage (Glenn Ford) and Corporal Chan Derby (Red Buttons) are cut off.

The general takes over a farmhouse owned by Frenchwoman Simone (Taina Elg), and decides to organize a defense from the stragglers he can gather. Shortly afterwards, however, he is killed saving Murph’s life.

The first American soldier to show up, Corporal Terry Sellers (Dean Jones), mistakes Murph for Lane; as Murph is holding the general’s helmet.

Realizing that leadership is needed to rally the disorganized troops, Murph masquerades as the general, with Derby and Simone’s help. Murph manages to repulse a couple of German attacks spearheaded by tanks, while avoiding Private Orville Hutchmeyer (Tige Andrews), who holds grudges against him.

At the end, Murph is knocked out by shrapnel, allowing him to “die” and resume his real identity.

Glenn Ford as MSgt. Murphy Savage
Red Buttons as Cpl. Chan Derby
Taina Elg as Simone
Dean Jones as Cpl. Terry Sellers
Kent Smith as Brig. Gen. Charles Lane
Tige Andrews as Pvt. Orville Hutchmeyer
John Wilder as Lt. Jeff Clayton
Ralph Votrian as American Pfc.


b/w camera; George Folsey

Release date: August 20, 1958
Running time: 88 minutes
Budget: $944,000
Box office: $3,165,000